And they’re off. The Conservatives have raced into an early lead in the polls and will be looking to secure an overall majority. Will they do it? Here are ten seats that will be illustrative of how they will do.
Long-held by the Lib Dems, the Conservatives took Cheltenham in 2015. This constituency was “won” by Remain something like 57:43. It’s a very clear Lib Dem target, though its current MP Alex Chalk himself supported Remain and has opposed a no deal Brexit. If the Conservatives can hold seats like this while campaigning to get Brexit done, they’re in for a very good night.
Cons 11/4 Sky Bet, Lib Dems 1/4 Ladbrokes and Sky Bet
Cities of London and Westminster
Conservative since its creation in 1950, this constituency was “won” by a Remain landslide, with more than 70% of the vote. In 2017, Mark Field won it by just 8% of the vote. He’s stepping down this time and Chuka Umunna is standing for the Lib Dems, hoping to take it from third. If he succeeds, the Conservatives look set to lose quite a few more of their London seats.
Lib Dems 6/5 with Sky Bet, Cons 5/4 with Paddy Power, Labour 6/1 with Ladbrokes
The kind of seat that you would assume was Conservative since the year dot, in fact the Conservatives only finally retook it from the Lib Dems in 2017 (for the first time since 1997), who slumped to third. Will the Conservatives be able to hold onto a seat that voted Remain in Merseyside, or will either Labour or the Lib Dems succeed in uniting the anti-Conservative vote in this constituency? This seat is a good example of the type of seat where tactical voting or its absence will determine the outcome. No markets as yet.
My old colleague Paul Masterton took this seat for the Conservatives in 2017 from third. One of the Brexit mutineers fingered by the Telegraph, he has walked an uneasy line between getting Brexit done and assuaging the voters of East Renfrewshire on Brexit, who voted overwhelmingly Remain in 2016. His chances of keeping his seat will depend on whether his constituents see Brexit or the union as the priority.
Conservatives 8/11, SNP evens, Labour 25/1, all prices with Paddy Power
Held by Chloe Smith, Norwich North voted 56:44 for Leave. However, Labour came within an inch of taking it in 2017 and it is the type of seat that Labour must win if they are going to take power. Can Labour neutralise Brexit as an issue in such constituencies? Their chances of victory depend upon it. No markets as yet.
In one of the shock results of 2017, Labour took Kensington. The Conservatives are itching to take it back despite it being a Remain redoubt. Throwing a spanner in the works, Sam Gyimah is standing for the Lib Dems. If the Conservatives take this seat back, normal order will be restored. Should either Labour or the Lib Dems take it, the Conservatives are likely to struggle throughout London.
Cons 6/5 Sky Bet, Lib Dems 2/1 Sky Bet and Ladbrokes, Labour 11/4 Ladbrokes
A counterpart to Norwich North, the Conservatives will fancy their chances of retaking the oldest continuously inhabited English town. Ipswich has bucked trends in the past – it stayed in Labour hands in 1983, only to fall to the Conservatives in 1987. However, if the Conservatives fail to take Ipswich, they’re probably going backwards in the seat count.
Cons 2/5 Sky Bet, Lab 5/2 Paddy Power
Lanark & Hamilton East
The Conservatives don’t have many prospects in Scotland, but Lanark & Hamilton East is an interesting one. The Conservatives came a close third and with Labour, who finished second, continuing to languish, they will look to create a unionist majority for themselves. Meanwhile the SNP will be looking to build an anti-Brexit majority. How unionist Remainers decide to vote will decide this and other Scottish seats. Right now, this looks like a longshot for the Conservatives.
SNP 2/9, Conservatives 5/1, Labour 7/1, all prices with Paddy Power
The Conservatives have never taken Wrexham. They have, however, been getting closer and closer. The Labour incumbent Ian Lucas is standing down this time. A firmly Leave seat, it is typical of the type of seat that the Conservatives will hope to take for the first time. If they do, they will be in for a healthy majority. No markets as yet.
Staunchly Leave and staunchly Labour, Caroline Flint was given a major fright last time round by Political Betting’s own regular poster Aaron Bell (who has been rewarded with top target Newcastle-under-Lyme, which he is rightly 1/3 red hot favourite to take). She was one of the few Labour MPs to take a Leave line in Parliament. Will she be rewarded for her stance or has she alienated the Labour Remain voters who comprised a large part of her voter base? If the Conservatives take seats like this and Bolsover, they will be winning big. No markets as yet.